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What are completed surveys used for?

Information you give when you answer paid surveys is collected by market research companies (the companies that own online survey panels) and sold.

There are many companies or agencies willing to pay to have access to consumer panel data. For instance, a company creating a new product or service wants to know how it will be received by the public since the very first step of its development until its actual release. Media agencies are also using data from market research companies, especially in election period, when you can read poll results in every news. Even scientific research institutes publish articles based on the results of specific health-related surveys.

Here are some examples of how surveys you fill out are used:

Implementation of a new strategy by Safeway UK: more families needed!

We found on a nice case study about how the Safeway supermarkets in the UK changed their strategy to adapt to the market. From the end of the 80’s to the beginning of the 90’s, Safeway UK quickly increased the number of their stores. However, in 1993, new rules imposed by the UK government made it much more difficult for supermarket chains to increase their sales simply by opening new stores. Performance of existing stores needed to be increased. Safeway UK asked a market research company to perform surveys in order to determine how the company was perceived by the public.

    Some of the criticisms were that:
  • Safeway was seen as too expensive.
  • Product availability was judge as poor.
  • Safeway customers were primarily single people and pre-family couples but families prefered to go to somewhere else.

    Following this market study, Safeway decided to make family shoppers - the most lucrative segment - their priority. Some of the decision taken in order to do so were:
  • The creation of a discount for families..
  • The launch of the Safeway loyalty card.
  • A decreased price on commodity food lines.
  • Providing crèches in store, etc.

By using market study data, Safeway UK was able to successfully attract family shoppers, leading to an 20% increase of average sales per square foot in 2 years. More details and other interesting case studies on

Surveys are not only used for profit! Here are some examples

It would be sad to consider that market research companies are only asking our opinion in order to sell us more stuff. Well... it’s often true but not always! reports how a non-profit organization was able to use market research to redesign their website, regain the interest of the public and increase donations. They also describe how the state of Colorado successfully launched an anti-smoking campaign specifically designed to reach teens based on the results of surveys.

Research, Inc, a market research company, explains on its website how it collaborated with the Children's Healthcare of Atlanta in order to improve seatbelts usage among teens: Research, Inc, was asked to conduct a research study identifying occasions when teens are not wearing seatbelts, how past messaging about seatbelt usage has been perceived and what would be the best way to advocate seatbelt usage among teenagers. An advertisement campaign was then conducted taking into account results of the research study. A post-campaign performed one year after revealed that seatbelt usage among teenagers has been increased.

Market research companies are also used by scientists!

Here is another interesting example of the utilization of data provided by market research companies:
Overdose of paracetamol represent 40,000 cases per year in the UK, leading to about 100 to 200 deaths. In 1998, the UK government introduced a legislation in order to limit pack sizes of paracetamol and the maximum number of tablets sold at any one time by pharmacy outlets. The goal was to reduce the number of paracetamol poisonings.

In 2012, researchers from London, UK, asked Global Market Insite to carry out an Internet survey (through their online panel GlobalTestMarket that we describe here ) asking panelists about their usage and storage of paracetamol.

Results of this study showed that between one and two-thirds of people having paracetamol at home possesses 32 or more tablets, which already represent a potentially toxic dose. The easy access to most people to large amount of paracetamol despite the limitations imposed by the UK government explains why the legislation had only poor effects on the number of paracetamol overdoses.

You can find many other examples of how data from the surveys you answer is used in the "News" section of the survey panels we describe at

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